Edinburg named All-America City for 4th time

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The city of Edinburg received its fourth designation as an All-America City during a competition and conference hosted by the National Civic League in Denver over the weekend. (Courtesy: City of Edinburg)

EDINBURG — For the first time in more than two decades, Edinburg has been bestowed with a rare distinction: that of All-America City.

The city earned the much-coveted designation during a competition and conference hosted by the National Civic League in Denver over the weekend. And for Edinburg Mayor Ramiro Garza Jr., winning was an honor decades in the making.

“It’s been 24 years,” Garza said while in between flights on his way back to the Rio Grande Valley on Monday.

“What went through my mind is we’re bringing this back home. We’re bringing back to our community this remarkable honor,” he said of the moment that Edinburg’s name was called during the awards ceremony Sunday evening.

Hundreds of municipalities across the country applied for consideration to be named an All-America City late last year, the mayor said. Then, earlier this spring, 20 of those were selected as finalists, including Edinburg.

This weekend, a contingent of about 20 Edinburg residents and city staffers, including Garza, traveled to Denver to compete at the 75th annual All-America City Award Event.

There, representatives from each city delivered presentations that highlighted how their community best exemplified this year’s theme of “strengthening democracy through local action and innovation.”

“We were nervous about it, but we felt good about it (the competition) because we felt that we have quite a bit happen in our city,” Garza said.

“We have a great story to tell,” he said.

The Edinburg delegation highlighted the city’s broad plan for growth and inclusivity via the Edinburg 2040 campaign, which pairs input from community members with city leaders via a variety of committees.

The city of Edinburg received its fourth designation as an All-America City during a competition and conference hosted by the National Civic League in Denver over the weekend. (Courtesy: City of Edinburg)

Each committee focuses on a specific facet of the city, such as transportation and mobility, public safety, health and wellness, arts and culture, economic development, and government transparency, according to the city’s official website.

Edinburg also highlighted the role of younger generations in shaping the city’s future via initiatives such as the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council.

“We were so happy to have one of our youth advisory council join us,” Garza said.

“She talked about how being part of Edinburg 2040 … she was so inspired learning about the city that she registered to vote and she voted for the first time,” Garza said with a note of pride in his voice.

The delegation also made a point of highlighting Edinburg’s efforts to expand access to qualify of life amenities to all of the city’s residents, regardless of physical ability through the development of inclusive parks and public spaces.

In sum, the delegation wanted to show the National Civic League that “Edinburg is for everyone.”

“Our biggest thing that resonated with the judges, I think, the whole weekend was — and it was the title of our presentation — Edinburg is for everyone,” Garza said.

“I talked about that. I wasn’t born in Edinburg, right? And now I’m the mayor. But it shows how Edinburg is a very welcoming community,” the mayor added.

Garza said how proud he was that the delegation was able to so well represent the city’s 105,000 inhabitants and that the judges were able to recognize Edinburg’s strengths, despite its challenges.

Challenges include higher-than-average poverty and negative mass media rhetoric regarding the border, the mayor said.

Nonetheless, the panel of judges saw Edinburg as a city with a bright future ahead.

“Yet, Edinburg remains steadfast in its commitment to fostering continued growth and development, while simultaneously striving to provide exceptional opportunities for both residents and businesses,” reads a biography of the city on the National Civic League’s website.

With its fourth designation as an All-America City, Edinburg has now become the winningest city in the Valley.

Other cities that have won the distinction include Brownsville, which has earned the title twice, as well as Mission, Hidalgo, McAllen, Pharr, Weslaco and Harlingen, which have all won once, according to the National Civic League’s website.

“We’re a shining example of what takes place when residents work together to move the city forward,” the mayor said.

This year, only one other Texas city besides Edinburg earned the All-America City distinction — La Marque.

“I’m just so happy for our city and it feels good to bring it back home,” Garza said.

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